The inspection was carried out by three Additional Inspectors.
Description of the school
This large school serves an area of considerable social and economic disadvantage to the north of Doncaster town centre. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is above the national average as is the proportion who do not speak English at home. Most of these pupils are from families of recent economic migrants. Many are from Poland, but some come from one of several other Eastern European countries. The proportion of pupils who start or leave the school during term time is above average. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, or with a statement of special educational need, is broadly average. The school holds the Healthy Schools Award.
Overall effectiveness of the school
This is a satisfactory school. Its strengths lie in: the good provision of the Foundation Stage; the good range of extra-curricular activities, which enrich pupils' learning experiences and broaden their horizons; and the productive links it has with parents and other professionals, which help it give good support to vulnerable pupils. It is inclusive, and this is why pupils feel safe and well cared for. It gives satisfactory value for money.
When pupils start school their skills are below those typical for their age, but vary considerably from year to year. Standards in the current Year 6 are below average, which represents satisfactory progress given the pupils' starting points. Standards of writing in all age groups have been consistently below average in recent years, in part because many pupils join the school unable to speak English. The school and its partners are working hard to address this. Standards in science are not high enough because pupils do not undertake enough practical or investigative work.
Pupils' personal development and well-being are satisfactory. Provision for spiritual, moral, social and cultural education is satisfactory overall. The social and cultural aspects are good, and successfully foster the sense of community in the school and reinforce harmonious relationships and tolerance. The spiritual dimension is satisfactory. The satisfactory moral aspect is reflected in the satisfactory behaviour of pupils in classes. Attendance is broadly average overall. It improves as pupils grow older. Staff know the pupils very well and take good care of them. Safeguarding is rigorous. Those pupils who need support receive it promptly.
The quality of teaching and learning is satisfactory. Teachers measure accurately and record regularly what pupils know and can do. This reliable information is not used well enough to plan work to meet the needs of all pupils in lessons. Where the pace of learning is slower, lessons are typified by teachers setting the same task for all pupils in the class. The best lessons move along rapidly, because teachers have high expectations of pupils, and pupils rise to the challenges they are set. Relationships between adults and pupils are consistently good, because pupils recognise the dedication and commitment teachers make on their behalf. Marking is regular, but very often does not tell pupils what they need to do next to improve.
The curriculum is satisfactory. All the subjects of the National Curriculum are taught. The school is beginning to link subjects together so that the skills pupils have learned in one area can be used and extended in another. A good range of extra-curricular artistic, creative and interpersonal activities enhance pupils' understanding of the world in which they live. Links with French, German and Polish schools have been established to celebrate the different cultures represented in the school.
Leadership and management are satisfactory. The school is orderly and runs well on a day-to-day basis. Leaders have a clear determination to ensure that pupils are happy and safe. Their monitoring of all aspects of the school's work is regular, but their evaluation of the impact of its work on the progress pupils are making academically lacks rigour. This is diminishing the hard work of teachers and other adults because their efforts are not being channelled to ensure that pupils learn new things more rapidly. The school has satisfactory capacity to improve.
Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage
The Foundation Stage is good. Children make good progress from their below average starting points. Many reach levels close to those expected for their age by the end of the Foundation Stage, but this is not so for all children. This is particularly the case in language and literacy because many children start school with below average skills, or no English at all. Teaching is good. The setting is well managed and organised, with clear, simple systems that are familiar to children. Classrooms are bright and stimulating, reflecting the well-planned curriculum. As a result of the warm rapport that is built between staff and children, behaviour is good and the children quickly adapt to the school's routines and expectations. There are clearly defined spaces for all the areas of learning and an interesting range of activities to promote curiosity and learning, although occasionally activities lack a clear focus. Robust and extensive systems are in place to measure what children know and can do, and to track their progress.
What the school should do to improve further
- Raise standards and improve achievement in English and science.
- Ensure marking enables pupils to know more clearly what they need to do next to improve.
- Ensure that teachers use assessment information more effectively when planning lessons, so that pupils of different abilities are given suitably different and challenging tasks.
- Rigorously monitor pupils' progress to identify more effectively where improvements can be made.
A small proportion of the schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory but which have areas of underperformance will receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before their next section 5 inspection.
Achievement and standards
Achievement is satisfactory overall. Standards are broadly average to below average depending on the pupils' starting points. Children enter the Foundation Stage with skills generally below those typical for their age, with significant variations from year to year. They make good progress and by the time they start Year 1, many are working close to the levels expected for their age.
The school's reliable tracking system shows that pupils of all abilities make satisfactory progress through Key Stages 1 and 2; however standards are slightly lower in writing than in other subjects. Different groups of pupils, including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, and the large and increasing number who are learning English as an additional language, also make satisfactory progress.
Personal development and well-being
Pupils have a good awareness of the need for a healthy diet and regular exercise. They can distinguish between myth and fact when discussing the dangers of drugs and alcohol through personal, social and health education lessons, and when the school nurse visits. They are confident to share their thoughts and feelings in groups during circle time. Pupils say they enjoy coming to school, feel safe, and that occasional incidents of bullying are dealt with quickly by staff. Behaviour is variable. Pupils are sensible and considerate when moving round the school, during lunch breaks and at playtimes. They easily become restless when the pace of lessons slows. Attendance rates have improved and are now closer to the national average. Younger pupils do not attend as well as older pupils. Most pupils are active in the range of communities to which they belong. The school council is well established, giving pupils a voice in the running of their school. Groups perform at community events such as fetes and fundraisers, they share activities with local schools, and have connections with schools in Eastern Europe. This builds their confidence and self-esteem. Pupils are prepared satisfactorily for the next stage of their education. Lessons and assemblies miss opportunities for reflection, or for pupils to recognise selflessness in modern circumstances which are relevant to themselves.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The quality of teaching and learning is satisfactory overall. Through Years 1 to 6, the quality of teaching varies. These inconsistencies occur more often in Key Stage 2. All lessons are characterised by the good relationships between teachers and pupils. In the best lessons, pupils are set interesting work which challenges them to work independently and to think for themselves. Teachers ask probing questions which encourage pupils to explain the reasoning behind their answers. In these lessons, pupils engage quickly and their interest is sustained. They show good attitudes to learning and they make good progress. In other lessons, the pace of learning slows because all pupils are inappropriately set the same tasks. Higher attaining pupils find the work too easy, and lower attaining pupils find the work too hard. Sometimes, when the teaching does not fully engage pupils, the quality of behaviour slips, and attitudes to learning become only satisfactory. Teachers mark pupils' work regularly, but give little guidance for improvement. Pupils are not always clear about what they need to do to get better.
Curriculum and other activities
The school provides a satisfactory curriculum which meets statutory requirements. In order to raise standards, there is rightly an emphasis on the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, though other subjects are represented satisfactorily. Satisfactory curriculum planning ensures that both classes in each year group benefit from a similar range of activities. The school has started to make links between subjects so that skills learned in one subject can be further developed in another, but this is not yet consistent. A good strength of the curriculum is the wide range of additional features that provides enhancement and enrichment, such as French, a wide range of educational visits (including the popular residential visit to Northumberland) and the contributions of a wide range of visitors. A girls' mathematics group has been started to tackle the lower achievement of girls. Pupils participate in a number of local events such as dance festivals, sporting fixtures and community fetes. There is a good range of well supported extra-curricular clubs that cater for many interests.
Care, guidance and support
The school meets government requirements for safeguarding pupils. Adults know the pupils well and because relationships are good, pupils trust staff and approach them quickly and openly if they have any concerns. Links with a range of outside agencies are strong, and enable professional and other groups to give effective and prompt help to vulnerable pupils, as shown clearly in the comment: 'The school has been very quick putting into place additional support which has minimised problems my child may have experienced.' Academic guidance is satisfactory. The school accurately and regularly measures and records what pupils know and can do. This information is not used well enough to plan work in lessons to challenge all pupils. Many pupils do not have a clear enough understanding about what they must do to improve their work.
Leadership and management
The headteacher's calm manner is reflected in the smooth functioning of the school, and its respected position in the community. He is well supported by a unified staff group. His caring and considerate leadership has built, over several years, a peaceful and inclusive atmosphere in the school, which is well liked by parents as demonstrated in the comment: 'The school is run by a fantastic team of friendly, supportive teachers.' The school's self-evaluation is broadly accurate if sometimes overly generous. Systems for managing the school are appropriate, including procedures for monitoring teaching. However, leaders do not evaluate the quality of learning with sufficient rigour. This means that the challenging targets the school sets are not always met. Governance is satisfactory. Governors give generously of their time, and are strongly involved in monitoring and supporting the pastoral aspects of the school's work. They do not hold the school sufficiently to account for the academic progress pupils are making. The school has made satisfactory improvements since the last inspection, holding steady as the characteristics of groups of pupils entering the school have changed markedly.